Last week I finally got a chance to get out of the shop, jump in my car and take a ride up to Vermont for a tour of the Cellars at Jasper Hill. Chris was catering a party, so he stayed behind to cook and hold down the fort. Ever since my dream of opening a cheese shop became a reality, I have been dying to take a tour and see first hand what could be called the engine of the artisan cheese movement in the Northeast. Tours aren't available to the public, so my new life as a proprietor and cheesemonger got me a golden ticket courtesy of the Vermont Cheese Council, of which we are members.
I arrived at Jasper Hill on Friday morning met my group and began the tour. To maintain strict hygiene and food safety protocol we changed our shoes and put on white coats and hair caps. The Cellars is a 22,000 square foot underground cheese aging facility that they've opened up to other small Vermont cheesemakers that can't afford (or aren't interested in) building and maintaining a cheese cave and setting up an operation to handle wholesale selling and distribution. Basically, they provide a place for cheesemakers to send their young cheeses to be ripened and marketed by an expert staff.
Our tour took us into four different caves, each with a different style of cheese aging in it. Each cave provides the ideal temperature and humidity for the type of cheese. It was quite a sight and fascinating to see all the work and skill that goes into aging cheese. It ended with lunch outside on the farm and a chance to taste a new cheese called Harbison that hasn't been released yet and is currently aging in the Cellars. I can't wait for its release, and I will let you all know the minute it hits Fairfield! In the meantime, we have a bunch of delicious cheeses from The Cellars arriving just in time for the weekend